Pine Cones :: Fall Nature Study

With the end of summer and the public school kids absent from our neighborhood, we begin our nature walks in a more relaxed, low-key environment. I know from past experience that I will have fewer families join us for our excursions … regardless of when I schedule the outing. This is perfectly fine with me.  A smaller group is certainly more intimate and we now look forward to longer excursions and all-day outings farther from home.

Last week, we chose to walk down to our neighborhood park for nature study on pine cones.  We met two other families there … one new to homeschooling.  Upon arrival, we selected a dry cone and placed it in a tub of water.  The kids shared what they expected to happen … a couple expected the cone get bigger like a sponge as it absorbed water.  It was a delight to show them that the water made the cones close up to protect the seeds.  We talked about nature’s design and I encouraged them to try the simple experiment again at home with other types of cones.

The 4 kiddos pictured here have been nature journaling for quite some time.  They are getting very adept at their illustrations and my little guy has just begun to narrate to me more information he’d like to include (okay … I admit, I had to encourage him and asked him questions to elicit what he knew) … but it is a start.  DD, on the other hand, has begun to sketch what is of interest to her on her own.  While the girls were collecting cones, they had also observed a few small birds flitting about the pines.  MeiLi recognized it right away … it’s a Nuthatch … see how it walks upside down!  It was no surprise that she chose to illustrate it when she sat down with her journal.  [Admin Note :: As I was writing this, she peaked over my shoulder to say, “Oh. I’m not yet finished, Mom.  I want to color her, too.”]

It turned out to be a beautiful fall day and after our study, the kids enjoyed playing on the structures (the boys) and in the natural areas (the girls).  One family was new to homeschooling, so it was a delight to sit with the mom a while as the kids played to share our successes and failures.  She had many questions and I believe she left feeling much more at ease about her decision.

P.S.  This topic was selected from Barb’s Autumn 2010 Outdoor Hour Challenges.  To find out more about her challenges and how to integrate nature study into your curriculum, visit her blog, Handbook of Nature Study.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

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